Thursday, 5 December 2019
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
The first issue I wish to raise today is a familiar one to many of my friends in the Gallery, namely, The Star bingo in Crumlin village. Many people have been in touch with me about it. I understand legislation is coming in to limit the amount of money that can be given out in prize money. There is much concern that this will take away from the playing of bingo. I accept that issues such as gambling addiction arise, but I do not think bingo leads to that. The people who have come to me are genuine men and women who have retired, and they go to bingo as a social outlet in the evenings. We must be cognisant of that factor because loneliness is a major public health issue. I accept bingo is a commercial enterprise, but it brings much joy to many people, including our relatives, who use it as a social outlet. I do not think we should forget how important it is to have such a social outlet.
The second issue I wish to raise concerns citizenship applications and stamp 4 applications. I raised it in the House previously and the Minister listened to what I had to say, in addition to discussing re-entry visas. He was quick to appeal the High Court residency decision. As I indicated in the House, there are administrative irregularities, bordering on racism when it comes to the timeframe of dealing with citizenship and stamp 4 applications. There is an onus on applicants to adhere to timelines and have all their ducks in a row, but there are no deadlines when it comes to the State processing the applications. It might be time to introduce statutory deadlines for the State to deal with citizenship and stamp 4 applications. When an applicant has all of his or her paperwork in order and he or she is entitled by the laws of the land to be a citizen, we must ensure that is done properly because it is very upsetting when people have to wait a long time.
One cannot travel while waiting for a stamp 4 visa application. Those waiting are contributing members of society and we must give them the proper céad míle fáilte if they are here legitimately and legally. The Minister must look expeditiously at the matter.